Tyburn Tree Marker – London, England - Atlas Obscura

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Tyburn Tree Marker

Never actually a tree at all, this spot was the site of London's public hangings for nearly 600 years. 


It would be easy to pass by this unassuming traffic island near Marble Arch and never know the morbid history of this very spot. Today, a small stone marker in the pavement is the only reminder that this was the site of London’s public hangings for nearly 600 years.

The Tyburn Tree was not a tree at all, but rather a wooden gallows where felons were executed in front of crowds that could number in the thousands. The “tree” was a triangular-shaped scaffold with three beams, able to hang up to 24 people at once, which was quite an innovative mechanism in medieval Europe. The three oak trees that surrounding the marker, indicate the legs of the gallows. They are commonly referred to as a ‘Three Legged Mare’ 

The first recorded execution at the site dates as far back as 1196, but the wooden gallows weren’t built until 1571. The strange structure became known as the Tyburn Tree, and was given many nicknames such as the “Triple Tree” or “the Deadly Never Green Tyburn Tree.” One such famous execution was that of Oliver Cromwell. In 1661 his exhumed body was symbolically hung here in retaliation by Charles II for the regicide of his father.

Public hangings were a popular spectacle in the Middle Ages, and huge throngs of people came to watch criminals “dance the Tyburn jig,” as it was sometimes so indelicately called. The prisoners would traditionally say a few words before their death, often speaking out against the political powers of the day. This tradition evolved into Speaker’s Corner, which served as a place for public debate and radical ideas in the city, and is still located nearby.

In 1783, the site of executions was moved to Newgate Prison, and a circular stone marker was installed to commemorate where the infamous Tyburn Tree hanging gallows once stood. Edgware Road is an old Roman street that runs in an almost perfectly straight line for 10 miles. From The Marble Arch to the Borough of Edgware.

Know Before You Go

The marker is embedded in the pavement in the middle of the traffic island at the junction of Edgware Road and Bayswater Road.

The easiest way to find it is to stand with your back to the large flower like sculpture at the end of Edgeware Road. Cross at the crossing, and the marker is in the pavement directly in front of you. 

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